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Sensory Art Helps Toddlers Learn

Who knew? Fingerpainting can help toddlers learn. It’s not just about making art (or, ahem, making a mess), it’s also about brain development.

Children learn best when they have hands-on experiences with materials, and the more senses that are engaged, the better according to an article on Earlychildhood NEWS. This is one of the reasons sensory tables are so popular in early childhood education. Yes, they are fun for kids. But more importantly from an education standpoint, they help children learn about cause and effect, language,  how things work, and simple math concepts.

Exploring art materials is a great way to engage the senses. Here are some fun, sensory rich art activities to try with your toddler:

Fingerpainting – Paint with fingerpaints on paper or try them on bubble wrap or another unique surface for extra sensory fun.

Manipulating playdough – Try it on its own, try it with tools (rolling pin, garlic press, cookie cutters), or try it with fun things to poke into the playdough (such as feathers and googly eyes).

Shaving cream art - Ah, shaving cream! This is one of our favorites. You can play and paint with it on paper, on windows, on mirrors, in the bathtub, or outside.

Textured paint – You can mix a variety of ingredients into regular tempera paint to create different sensory experiences. Try salt, sand, glitter, corn syrup, or sugar. You can even add scents (vanilla, cinnamon, essential oils). You can also paint on a variety of textured surfaces.

Body paintingPainting the body can be an excellent sensory experience. Perhaps that’s why toddlers like it so much!

Collage with a variety of materials – Sorting, choosing, and handling the collage materials and adhering them to paper with glue (or to sticky contact paper) can be wonderful tactile fun. Try cotton balls, feathers, sequins, rice, tissue paper, or pieces of tin foil.

Have fun, and remember, the more hands on, the better!

Read more of Jean’s writing at The Artful Parent.
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